Sonic Grade: B? C?
I wrote this review in 2001, practically the stone age in my world, and would now disagree with a great deal of what I said about the sound of the record. The music and performances are fine, but the sound has all the hallmarks of bad cutting equipment and dead-as-a-doornail RTI vinyl.
This is the review I wrote in 2001:
Hearing this performance from Thomas Nee and his orchestra is like hearing the work for the first time. It may be difficult to reproduce the magic in these grooves but wonderfully rewarding when you do. You won’t be bored! The sound is intimate and immediate; this is the record for those of you who appreciate more of a front row center seat. Count me in; that’s where I like to sit myself.
I worked hard on my system for about 4 hours one night, using nothing but this record as my test, because of its wealth of subtle ambience cues, excellent string tone, and massed string dynamics. There is a lot to listen for, and a lot to get right, for this album to sound right.
The performance of the Mozart’s 35th Symphony is definitive. Without a doubt this is the best Mozart record currently available, one that belongs in any serious record collection. I give it a top recommendation for its sublime musical qualities that set it apart from other current releases. In short, a Must Own!
Twenty years and a great deal of Audio Progress later I have changed my tune. Now I would say:
Cisco’s titles had to fight their way through Kevin Gray’s opaque, airless, low-resolution cutting system, a subject we discussed on the blog in some depth here.
As is the case with practically every record pressed on Heavy Vinyl over the last twenty years, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a pronounced sterility to the sound. Modern remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing.
Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a bad case of audio enervation.
Where is the life of the music?
You can try turning up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want; they simply refuse to come to life.
A textbook case of Live and Learn.
Cisco Music had this to day about their record:
One of Mozart’s most popular symphonies is given a visceral and driving performance. Instead of slowing down the tempo in service to lyricism, conductor Thomas Nee chose to adhere to Mozart’s written instructions: ‘The first movement must be played with fire; the last, as fast as possible.’ Even if you own several recordings of this bright and joyous work, you’ve never heard it played like this, and certainly never with this kind of audiophile sound!
This is exactly the “kind of audiophile sound” I fell for 20 years ago, long before I had a clue just how good a great orchestral recording could sound.
Like most of the folks who pursue records in search of higher quality sound, I sure thought I did, which is why it’s easy for me to write about it. I’ve been there.